New research about oral contraceptives indicates that the pill does more than prevent pregnancy - it also suppresses the sex drive. But is this tendency ultimately detrimental to our species?
MSNBC summarizes the study:
Women who have their hormone levels smoothed out by the Pill tend to seek men who look like good long-term prospects, says the new report's lead author, Alexandra Alvergne, an evolutionary anthropologist at the University of Sheffield. On the contrary, a woman on a normal menstrual cycle will have a burst of hormones around the time of ovulation that will drive her to lust after the hottest, sexiest guy in the room. [...]
Even the men were impacted by a woman's cycle. Studies show that women who don't take the Pill actually look different and peak in their sex appeal in the days leading up to ovulation. Their voices become deeper, their faces take on a more symmetrical appearance and they dress more provocatively. Thus, they are more attractive to men when they are their most fertile.
Damn it! No one told me taking the Pill was going to squelch my natural morphing powers! I probably could have been Mystique by now if I hadn't gotten on the Pill early.
With the Pill to smooth out peaks in hormones, researchers found that women weren't ever drawn to the macho man, says Alvergne. And the fallout from that little hormonal tweak could be very significant, she says. What if the man a woman chooses when she's on the Pill isn't the one she'd like to be with when she goes off of it - to make babies, for example?
Scientists have playfully named the two female mating strategies as a choice between the "cad" or the "dad," says Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist at Rutgers University and author of "Why Him? Why Her?"
So, in essence, the Pill may keep you from selecting a sexy stranger to get nasty with, but it only has your best reproductive interests at heart. WTF, is Ortho Tri-Cyclen my mom?
Also of interest, in a previous (but related study):
"One rather titillating study looked the impact of menstrual cycle on the income lap dancers bring in. Sure enough, women made the most money when they were most fertile."
The current study notes that our chemical tampering might throw a wrench into your natural biological urges:
The pill may throw a spanner in the works. It stops this cyclical release of oestrogen and progesterone, and so may interfere with women's natural choice of partner. Some studies have suggested that while women usually prefer the scent of men with immune profiles dissimilar to their own, those on the pill preferred men with similar immune profiles.
Apparently, due to the high risks of inbreeding among our smaller social tribes, this was a serious consideration. However, the research commentators ultimately conclude that the pill works well for the way we live now - as long as your life involves settling down, being responsible...and not humping the first hot thing that walks by every third week of the month.
The Pill makes women pick ‘dad' over the ‘cad' [MSNBC]
Has the pill changed the rules of sexual attraction? [New Scientist]